Alex Lucas lives in a Bristol landmark. Bright red and adorned with white flowers, birds and a huge sign welcoming you to the area, Alex’s Montpelier home can’t be missed – and can’t help but make you smile when you walk past it.
“I like to think I’m the opposite of Banksy” she tells me “–when something just appears and people wonder how it got there. With my house I was up there for days!” Five days, to be specific, and with such lovely results that it was featured in The Times newspaper as one of the 50 best places to live in the UK. Alex muses that there’s a real respect and “ownership” of the house with local people, something she believes in part because of the total lack of graffiti the mural has suffered in the two and a half since she painted it.
Her beautiful home is also where we meet to drink liquorice tea and chat about her design for one side of the B£5 note. But before we get to that I discover that, as well as a brilliant artist, Alex is also a font of Picton Street trivia. I learn about old Police ‘Charlie Boxes’, tunnels under the road and which number Cary Grant used to live at (No 21, you can add it to your next walking tour of Bristol for visiting relatives).
Bristol born and bred, Alex studied Multi-Media Textiles at Loughborough University before finding her own unique style painting and printing her own predominantly animal focused designs, for private clients or to sell through the ‘window shop’ she created in her front room – Bristol Pounds obviously accepted.
“I use animals a lot, particularly ones that get up to mischief – I draw animals a lot more than people” she says. “When you look at a drawing of a person it’s much harder to see anything other than that person – but with animals you’re opening up a massive range of possibilities for the viewer. One animal could remind you of 8 different people”.
Animals are the most obvious theme in Alex’s work, but her design for the B£5 note – an image of a tiger spray painting ‘O Liberty!’ onto a wall – taps into other important ideas for her as well. Ideas such as the importance of play, the ability of art to affect us people and the untapped potential of a more positive street art culture.
“I’ve loved being involved in the Bristol Pound!” she says. Her B£5 design, framed in a colour coded mount in her front room (“it had to be pink”), has appeared in The Sun national newspaper and always makes Alex smile whenever it pops up on Google.